WASHINGTON -- Ignoring a veto promise from the White House, the Senate on Wednesday passed a $106 billion transportation and housing bill rejecting President Bush's proposed cuts to Amtrak, housing programs and community development projects.

The measure, passed by a 88-7 vote, also includes $200 million to provide aid to nonprofits and other groups that offer counseling and information to help homeowners with subprime mortgages avoid foreclosures.

It's just the fourth of 12 appropriations bills to pass the Senate, even though the new budget year begins in less than three weeks. The White House promised Bush would veto the transportation bill because of "an irresponsible and excessive level of spending."

But the measure enjoys broad support from senators in both parties for funding popular road and bridge construction projects, Amtrak subsidies and grants for community development projects.

The bill rejects Bush-planned cuts in subsidies for otherwise unprofitable rural air routes and reverses his proposal to eliminate funding for a $100 million program to rehabilitate "severely distressed" public housing projects.

It also contains an almost 50 percent increase over current spending to repair and replace the country's crumbling network of bridges, as well as $195 million sought by Minnesota GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and his Democratic colleague Amy Klobuchar to replace the collapsed Interstate 35W span in Minneapolis.

The measure also provided an opportunity for lawmakers to address the subprime mortgage crisis, which by some estimates is threatening more than 2 million people with the loss of their homes.

Senators including Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., Christopher Bond, R-Mo., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., teamed up to provide $200 million to help build up the network of nonprofit groups that help borrowers facing problems with subprime mortgages.

Many such borrowers are unsophisticated and are often intimidated in their dealings with mortgage servicers. Nonprofit groups such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, and NeighborWorks America give advice and often serve as intermediaries for borrowers requiring adjustments to the terms of their loan.

Much of the momentum behind the underlying transportation and housing measure comes from the more than 800 home-state projects inserted into the measure by senators in both parties. Those so-called earmarks total more than $2.5 billion, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group based in Washington.

Earmarks include new roads, airport construction projects, mass transit subsidies and "economic development initiatives" such as community centers, housing for the homeless and grants to Boys and Girls clubs.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who opposes earmarks, sought Wednesday to eliminate a $500,000 earmark to complete a minor league baseball park in Billings, Mont., and $450,000 to repair buildings at the International Peace Garden in North Dakota. Coburn's bid failed by a 63 to 32 vote. That drubbing came on the heels of a 80-to-18 vote Tuesday rejecting Coburn's attempt to eliminate funding for bike paths.

"These votes represent a resounding victory for business-as-usual pork-barrel spending in Washington," Coburn said. "No one in America seriously believes that bike paths, peace gardens and baseball stadiums are more important national priorities than bridge and road repairs."

The bill would provide $1.4 billion for the money-losing Amtrak national passenger railroad, a perennial target of the administration. The White House proposed eliminating Amtrak's $500 million operating subsidy.

But Amtrak runs trains through almost every state, which gives it great support among lawmakers despite criticism from the Bush administration and some lawmakers for excessive subsidies on its cross-country trains, high labor costs and questionable management practices.

Comparable cuts were rejected in years past by GOP-controlled Congresses.

The Senate measure also rejects Bush's planned cuts of $735 million to the approximately $4 billion budget for community development block grants, as well as $765 million in cuts to a $3.5 billion budget for airport improvement grants.

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